When strategic planning arrived on the scene in the mid 1960´s corporate leaders embraced it as “the one best way” to devise and implement the strategiesthat would enhance the competitiveness of each business unit.
While certainly not dead, strategic planning has long since fallen from it´s pedestal. But even now, few people fully understand thereason: strategic planning is not thinking. Indeed, strategic planning often spoils strategic thinking, causing managers to confuse real vision with the manipulation of numbers. And this confusion lies atthe heart of the issue: The most successful strategies are visions, not plans.
Organizations disenchanted with strategic planning should not get rid of their planners or conclude that there is no needfor programming. Rather, organizations should transform the conventional planning job. Planners should make their contribution around the strategy-making process rather than inside it. They shouldsupply the formal analyses or hard data that strategic thinking requires.
They should act as catalysts who support strategy making by aiding and encouraging managers to think strategically. And,finally, they can be programmers of a strategy, helping to specify the series of concrete steps needed to carry out the vision.
Strategic thinking, in contrast, is about synthesis. It involvesintuition and creativity. The outcome of strategic thinking is an integrated perspective of the enterprise, a not too precisely articulated vision of direction, such as the vision of Jim Clark. Founder ofSilicon Graphics.
THE PITFALLS OF PLANNING
If you ask conventional planners what went wrong, they will inevitably point to a series of pitfalls for which they, of course, are not responsible.
Theproblem is that planning represents a calculating style of management, not a committing style. Managers with a committing style engage people in a journey.
They lead in such way that everyone on...